Restaurant Depot plans to open Sonoma County food service wholesale store

A New York-based chain of food service wholesale stores plans to open its first North Bay location.

Restaurant Depot has inked the initial prelease at Panattoni Development Company’s Innovation Center project in Rohnert Park, confirmed listing agent Ronald Reinking of Newmark.

The chain signed a 10-year deal for 46,000 of nearly 90,000 square feet available in the larger of two buildings under construction at 5000 Dowdell Ave. at Business Center Drive.

The wholesaler has been looking in the market for two or three years, according to Reinking.

“There wasn’t anything available for them that fit their needs,” he said. “Panattoni had built a building for Restaurant Depot before, so (the wholesaler) kept an eye on the project for the last few years.”

Based in the Whitestone neighborhood of New York City’s Queens borough, Restaurant Depot is a cash-and-carry wholesaler, meaning that businesses pay for product on the spot instead of signing an invoice with payment terms. The chain is focused on sales in bulk restaurant and other food service operators, offering uniforms, equipment, supplies, fresh and packaged food, and wine.

Memberships are required to enter the stores, but joining is free of charge for those who can show proof they’re authorized to purchase for a licensed business.

Cash-and-carry warehouse stores are a self-service model for businesses, an alternative to placing orders for delivery from a distributor.

A similar cash-and-carry store concept is Costco Wholesale, which has seven current North Bay locations and 847 warehouses worldwide. It started as a small-business-focused membership store Price Club in San Diego in 1976 but within a few years started selling memberships to the general public, according to the Washington-based company’s history. While stores are open to business and consumer members, locations have hours just for commercial customers.

Another food service–oriented store chain with local ties is Chef’sStore. It started in 1955 in Oregon as United Grocers Cash & Carry. It became Cash&Carry Smart Foodservice in 1988 after Smart & Final acquired it, later rebranding as Smart Foodservice Warehouse Stores. In 2020, distributor US Foods acquired it, giving the chain its current name.

There are 17 California locations, including the sole North Bay location in Santa Rosa. Its stores are open to the public.

Restaurant Depot started in 1990 as Jetro Cash & Carry store then launched Restaurant Depot six years later. The chain has since expanded to 149 locations nationwide. Existing San Francisco Bay Area stores are in San Francisco, Oakland, Concord and San Jose. The company has announced three new stores for 2023, the nearest of which is Bakersfield.

The Journal contacted Restaurant Depot for comment on the Rohnert Park location.

Panattoni, an Irvine-based nationwide industrial and office project developer, which has built extensively in southern Napa Valley in recent decades and just wrapped three warehouses in Fairfield in Solano County, acquired the 10.3-acre Sonoma County property five years ago from the holdings of the famed late cartoonist Charles Schulz. (His widow, Jeannie Schulz, is an owner of Sonoma Media Investments, parent company of North Bay Business Journal and The Press Democrat.)

After a few years of protected-species mitigation and entitlement work, the Rohnert Park project secured a city grading permit this past fall, and work has been progressing on preparing pads for the concrete buildings. Both buildings, which have clear heights of 28 feet, are set for completion next September.

The Innovation Center project originally was designed with twin 89,600-square-foot buildings, but the parking needs of Restaurant Depot led to reducing the size of the second building to just under 70,000 square feet, Reinking said. A deal is pending for all the second building, but there are two prospective tenants for that space, if the lease isn’t signed, he said.

With asking rents at $1.30–$1.35 a square foot monthly on a triple-net basis, the project has some of the area’s top industrial rents, Reinking said.

Trevor Buck of Cushman & Wakefield represented Restaurant Depot in the Rohnert Park lease, signed in September.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Before coming to the Business Journal in 1999, he wrote for Bay City News Service in San Francisco. Reach him at or 707-521-4256.

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